The Spice Journal, Saffron, Art 3, recepie

The Spice Journal, Saffron, Art 3, recepie

Chicken Pilaf with Saffron 

Saffron, chicken, rice, three ingredients for a classic middle-eastern pilaf, and also for North Indian cuisine. Did you know that the Mughuls reigned in Northern India for almost 200 years with Agra as it’s capital ( the home of the Taj Mahal)  from the 15-17th century? They created “Moghul cuisine” a mix of Persian cuisine with Indian spices.  This cuisine is renowned for the richness and aromaticity of the meals due to the extensive use of spices like saffron, cardamom, black pepper, dry fruits and nuts, as well as cream, milk and butter. Every day dishes such as pilau, biryani( an elevated and complicated pilau), kormas (creamy curries) , halwa desserts, and naan breads, to name just a few, are remnants of Mughul history.

Now for a simple family recepie of Chicken, Rice and Saffron Pilau

Step 1

Marinate chicken, preferably overnight. Use chicken fillets with the skin on to get a more succulent dish and crispy skin. 

Marinade for 1kg chicken:

1/4 onion

1 clove of garlic

2 cm piece of peeled ginger

80ml plain yogurt

10 strands of saffron soaked in a tablespoon of water overnight

1 tsp salt

1 tsp mixed ground cinnamon, clove, cardamom, nutmeg  (or a mixture of any of these that you have in your cupboard)

Make a paste in the mixer with all the ingredients, mix it well into the chicken and marinate in the fridge for anything between 2 hours to overnight.

Step 2

Cook the chicken in the oven, 180 C for 30-40 mins, depending on the thickness of the fillets.

Step 3

Add 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of ghee, Indian clarified butter or normal butter to a pan. 

Add whole spices : 1 bay leaf, 2 cloves, 2 cardamom pods opened, 1/2 stick of cinnamon

Add 400g washed rice, preferably, basmati

Add 10 soaked saffron threads

Add 1tsp salt

Add 150g frozen peas

Add enough water or chicken stock to cover the rice ( about 800ml)

Place chicken over the rice 

Simmer until rice is cooked through, adding more liquid if necessary

When the rice is cooked, leave in the pan for 5 minutes covered, before serving.

Delicious with some plain yoghurt and a mixed salad.

Variazione to the recepie

Use chicken strips, thighs or a whole roast chicken for the marinade.

Add ghee, (indian clarified butter), raisins, toasted almonds, pistachios and cashews. 

The chicken can be eaten separately, maybe with a green salad and roast potatoes.

Also the rice dish without the chicken can be a meal in itself. Add more vegetables, or shellfish if desired.


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